A panel of experts tasked by the Luxembourg Government with analysing the usefulness of a potential COVID-19 vaccine mandate has recommended a vaccine mandate for people aged 50 and over as well as healthcare workers.
The panel was composed of the following five medical and scientific experts: Dr Vic Arendt, Infectiologist at the national service for infectious diseases, Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL); Prof Dr Claude P Muller, Professor at Saarland University and the University of Trier (Germany) and expert in virology and immunology at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH); Dr Gérard Schockmel, specialist in infectious diseases at Hôpitaux Robert Schuman and expert with the European Medicines Agency (EMA); Dr. Thérèse Staub, Chief Medical Officer of the national service for infectious diseases, CHL and President of the Superior Council for Infectious Diseases; Prof Dr Paul Wilmes, Professor of Systems Ecology at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and the Department of Life Sciences and Medicine, Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Luxembourg.
Based on current scientific and medical knowledge, the expert panel recommended the following:
- introducing compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 for residents aged 50 and over, i.e. the most vulnerable population. This represents around 70,000 people;
- making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for people working in the healthcare sector, i.e. those who are likely to come into contact with the vulnerable population.
The panel advised the government to introduce these vaccine mandates as soon as possible and until 30 June 2024, with the possibility of shortening or extending their duration depending on the evolution of the pandemic. The experts warned that even if such vaccination begins immediately, it will probably have little influence on the circulation of the Omicron variant. They also noted that by 30 June 2024, almost all unvaccinated people are expected to have acquired some immunity from infection.
Regarding exceptions to the proposed vaccine mandates, the experts suggested that these should apply only in cases of medical contraindications.
Moreover, the panel recommended that the government ease the sanitary measures in place as soon as possible. They argued that this should be possible as a result of the increased protection of the vulnerable population at risk of developing severe COVID-19 and reduced pressure on hospital services.
The panel also advised the government to step up efforts to raise awareness and inform the public on the matter by providing clear and accurate figures highlighting the effectiveness of vaccination. They added that the continuous monitoring of vaccine effectiveness is essential.
The expert panel recalled that these recommendations are likely to change depending on the evolution of scientific and medical knowledge.